blogs i read
Friday June 30th 2006, 10:16 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, faith, church, youth specialties, personal, blogs, emerging church, youth work, emergent

i haven’t kept a blogroll on my site. no real reason, i suppose. there are SO many blogs i’d love to read everyday. but the problem is, i actually read them. and if i have hundreds of blogs in my reader, i’d spend WAY too much time on them. so i poke around from time to time and read others (mostly youth ministry blogs). but these are the blogs in my bloglines that i look at a couple times a day:

uncategorized blogs
Bob Carlton (bob is a good friend who blogs about a wide variety of subjects: spirituality, politics, personal stuff)
crowder’s blog (david’s personal blog)
(the more official band blog — mostly posts by mike hogan)
Dave Barry’s Blog (my favorite humorist — provides much of the fodder for funny links on my blog)
dave palmer (close friend and great thinker. dave’s blog has a lot of liberal politics)
Think Christian (a blog by a collection of thinkers. they’re great at pointing to interesting stuff in the christian blogosphere and internet)
Finding Rhythm (the personal blog of zach lind, the drummer from the band jimmy eat world)
ragamuffin diva (claudia burney’s blog. i love her writing)
steve case (good friend and ys author)
Jesus Creed (scot mcknight’s blog is my daily theology diet)
Mark Dowds (close friend and ys consultant)
paul chambers (paul is a good friend and the director of a retreat center on the island of guernsey)

my church’s youth pastors
brian berry (our high school pastor)
josh treece (our middle school pastor)

emerging church blogs
Mark Riddle’s Blog (riddle is a youth worker who loves the emerging church)
Mike King (mike is a contemplative gadfly, a good friend, and the director of youth front)
lilly’s pad (lilly loves the church and loves to play with contemplative stuff in youth ministry)
TallSkinnyKiwi (andrew jones blog — one of the best emerging church blogs; and provides me a non-u.s. perspective)
jonnybaker (good friend and british emerging church leader)
Doug Pagitt’s Blog (doug’s blog used to be one of the most substantive emerging church blogs, but he’s moved most of his content to podcasts, which i don’t usually take the time to listen to)
emergent-us (the official blog of emergent)
emergesque (stephen shields, of faith maps, provides SO much great stuff about faith, church, the internet, and the emerging church)
Theoblogy (good friend tony jones’ blog)
Vintage Faith (good friend dan kimball’s blog)

The long road to parenthood (jen and jay howver’s blog about their adoption process)
mindi godfrey (mins is a co-worker and one of my wife’s closest friends)
Renee Altson (renee’s more public blog, part of infuze magazine)
ianua, by renee altson (renee’s main blog — personal stuff)
Walking through the fog (jamie works at zondervan, on ys product)

junior high summit (these are all blogs from some of my friends who attend the junior high pastors summit every year)
alan ramsey
andy jack
jason raitz
jim candy
johnny scott
kurt johnston
alan mercer
sean meade

i hate it when this happens
Friday June 30th 2006, 6:21 pm
Filed under: humor

i can’t tell you how many times i’ve warned david hasselhoff, “dude, you’re a fairly tall fellow. be careful when you’re in the bathroom. watch out for the chandelier.”

i mean really. there’s almost nothing worse than a chandelier accident in the bathroom.

max’s hawk
Friday June 30th 2006, 1:25 pm
Filed under: family

admitedly, max’s new mohawk is not as extreme as andrew jones’s boy. but max is 8. jeannie took him to get his hair cut thursday, and he said, “i want a mohawk! not a fake one, not a faux-hawk, but a real mohawk.”

from the “what were his parents thinking?” file
Friday June 30th 2006, 11:40 am
Filed under: humor

yes, this guy’s name is tinkey toy.

structural revisionism
Friday June 30th 2006, 11:02 am
Filed under: faith, personal, thinking...

the renaissance hotel in washington, dc, is right across the street from the old convention center. i spent a week or so here in 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2000, plus a day or two here and there for planning meetings. so i feel like i kind of know this hotel (not like i know the renaissance hotel in nashville, where i calculated that i have spent about a quarter of one year of my life, between years of youth workers conventions — before and after working at ys, years of meetings, and a couple emergent conventions). so it’s odd to be here about 6 years later, and see how much things have changed.

the biggest oddity is that the convention center is gone.

it’s a parking lot. see? here’s the view off the balcony of my hotel suite:

that old convention center holds so many memories for me — great ones of long hours and deep friendships and exciting ministry impact. yesterday, i’d google-mapped directions to the hotel from the airport, and then clicked on the “satellite view” to see the actual buildings. i knew DCLA was in ‘the new convention center’ (which isn’t all that new anymore), across the street in a different direction. but i hadn’t heard anything about the old place. and the satellite photo showed it there. i know those photos aren’t always up to date (i’ve had a pool in my backyard for three years, and the satellite photo of my house shows an empty backyard). but i just didn’t think about it.

so it literally took by breath away (not in a good way - more like a sucker-punch) to see the old convention center is a giant parking lot. my guess is it will eventually be something else (it’s too prime a piece of property to be a parking lot — not even a parking garage).

in the mean time, i’ll look longingly across the street and remember the great times when god moved in powerful ways in that space that is now less real than the memories themselves.

the apparent omnipresence of thom shultz
Thursday June 29th 2006, 7:32 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, youth work

last summer, tic long and i stepped off a little boat in a river in botswana, africa, onto a dock at a restaurant where we were to have lunch. walking through the open-air restaurant, we passed a table where thom and joanie shultz were sitting, having lunch (thom and joanie are the owners of group publishing).

then, today after landing at washington, dc’s, dulles international airport, we were walking toward baggage claim and thom walked past me. i called his name, and we had a short chat. turns out he and joanie were on their way back from london.

weird. if i see him a third time somewhere, in the next 6 or 8 months, i might have to seriously freak out.

off to DCLA
Thursday June 29th 2006, 8:32 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, youth work

early this morning, all four oestreichers fly to washington, dc, for dcla. i’m pumped. other than a hiatus the last time yfc hosted the event (in 2003), i’ve been involved in this every-three-years youth event since 1991. this is the first year ys has hosted the event, so it’s a pretty big deal for us (and way-stressful for our staff). i haven’t heard the final numbers, but i expect it will be 9000 - 10,000. my daughter, liesl (our 12 year-old) will attend the event as a participant. jeannie is helping with the prayer chapel, and will be one of the spiritual directors for youth workers. i’m doing a seminar four times for middle school kids, helping with the first day orientation meetings, and giving a devotional at the morning staff and youth worker meeting. max… well, he’ll just be chillin’.

please pray for us. there are a lot of pretty stressed out parents, due to the flooding on the east coast (our office was ‘flooded’ with calls today).

more on grups and rejuveniles
Wednesday June 28th 2006, 11:06 am
Filed under: youth ministry, church, thinking..., youth work

apparently, the idea i’ve ruminated on in a couple posts is now scientific and has a name (neoteny). there’s a post about it on slashdot with a TON of comments.
(ht to bob carlton for this link)

Serious Study: Immaturity Levels Rising
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

June 23, 2006 —The adage “like a kid at heart” may be truer than we think, since new research is showing that grown-ups are more immature than ever.

Specifically, it seems a growing number of people are retaining the behaviors and attitudes associated with youth.

As a consequence, many older people simply never achieve mental adulthood, according to a leading expert on evolutionary psychiatry.

Among scientists, the phenomenon is called psychological neoteny.

The theory’s creator is Bruce Charlton, a professor in the School of Biology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He also serves as the editor-in-chief of Medical Hypotheses, which will feature a paper outlining his theory in an upcoming issue.

Charlton explained to Discovery News that humans have an inherent attraction to physical youth, since it can be a sign of fertility, health and vitality. In the mid-20th century, however, another force kicked in, due to increasing need for individuals to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places and make new friends.

A “child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge” is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world, Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, “unfinished.”

“The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product — the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity,” he explained.

“But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility.”

“When formal education continues into the early twenties,” he continued, “it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.”

Charlton pointed out that past cultures often marked the advent of adulthood with initiation ceremonies.

While the human mind responds to new information over the course of any individual’s lifetime, Charlton argues that past physical environments were more stable and allowed for a state of psychological maturity. In hunter-gatherer societies, that maturity was probably achieved during a person’s late teens or early twenties, he said.

“By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people,” he said.

“People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”

Charlton added that since modern cultures now favor cognitive flexibility, “immature” people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone not only for contemporary life, but also for the future, when it is possible our genes may even change as a result of the psychological shift.

The faults of youth are retained along with the virtues, he believes. These include short attention span, sensation and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.

At least “youthfulness is no longer restricted to youth,” he said, due to overall improvements in food and healthcare, along with cosmetic technologies.

David Brooks, a social commentator and an op-ed columnist at The New York Times, has documented a somewhat related phenomenon concerning the current blurring of “the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture,” which Charlton believes is a version of psychological neoteny.

Brooks believes such individuals have lost the wisdom and maturity of their bourgeois predecessors due to more emphasis placed on expertise, flexibility and vitality.

a few thoughts (non-scientific — just marko thoughts):

- i think there are two overlapping phenomenon being addressed in all this stuff. the first, which isn’t new really, is the elongation of adolescence. studies have already shown that adolescence has extended in both directions (down, to about 10 or 11, and up, to about the mid-20s). we talked about this in the CORE a year ago (i think some of it is in chap clark’s book, ), how adolescence, when it was first identified (early 1900s) was a period of about 2 years (14 - 16-ish). by the 70s, it had extended to the popularly understood definitions of the teenage years, lining up with our american educational systems of junior high and high school, and about 5 years long (13 - 18). but now, adolescence is a 12+ year journey of wrestling with the adolescent questions of identity, autonomy and belonging. it seems to me that this study/theory (in the article above) is primarily addressing this extended adolescence, as it doesn’t have much to say about the dissolving of the generation gap, or about 30-somethings and 40-somethings who choose a different set of values, more aligned with youth (and in my opinion, often — thought not always — better).

- i’m not jazzed about the writer’s use of the word “maturity”. maturity is often wrongly understood as behavior that is responsible and beyond one’s years. but maturity is actually behavior (and thought processes) that are appropriate to the age of the individual. we don’t blame an 8 year-old for acting like an 8 year-old. a ‘mature’ 8 year-old exhibits behavior that is appropriate for an 8 year-old. an ‘immature’ 8 year-old exhibits behavior of a 6 year-old, for example. that said, behavioral norms are not stagnant over time. today’s 18 year-olds, living 100 years ago, would have been considered extremely immature. but our behavioral expectations for them have shifted. this isn’t bad; it just is. our behavioral norms for 70 year-olds have shifted also! so part of what i think is going on here (which i’m surprised an “evolutionary psychologist” wouldn’t surface), is the current tension and wrestling around what our behavioral norms are for 20-somethings.

- this has implications for the church. are we to stand around and point fingers at 20-somethings and label them immature? or are we to meet them where they are and encourage growth (ooh, sounds like jesus)? i know i’m simplifying this unfairly. and i’m not suggesting we merely say “hey, who’s to say what immaturity is? to each his own.” clearly, this has spill-over implications for discussions about spiritual maturity, especially since what i’ve said about age-appropriate maturity is true of spiritual maturity also.

huggable urns
Wednesday June 28th 2006, 11:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

ok, i’m sorry, this is just weird. i mean, REALLY weird. i mean, i want to give people space to process a painful death in a way that makes sense to them. and i’m all for cremation. but putting the ashes in an urn that’s a teddy bear?

that’s what huggable urns offers.

i would expect a good amount of the purchasers are former pet owners. that’s odd enough — but people do some weird stuff with their dead pets.

but if i’m ever in someone’s house, and move a teddy bear to sit down in a chair, and that someone says, “oh, be careful with mom there,” and i answer, “i’m sorry? mom?”, and they say, “yeah, that teddy bear has mom’s ashes in it.” well, let’s just say that won’t be a happy day, and teddy bears will be forever ruined for me (not that they’re in the ‘make marko happy’ club as it is).

(ht to dave barry)

my uke hatred is slipping
Tuesday June 27th 2006, 7:14 am
Filed under: music

i’ve had an email in my inbox for a while now from kenr at firstwichita, who apparently knew of my deep disdain for the dainty little faux-guitar called a ukelele. i originally posted an extremely serious caution about the uke’s resurgence into youth culture here. nifty reader bobbie and her husband made a “no ukes” logo, and sent me a sticker (and paid for a shirt, which sadly never arrived). that logo is here. then people started sending me videos of uke playing, including this absolutely brilliant rendition of “while my guitar gently weeps”. but the uke-mail has been quiet for a while. and i hadn’t gotten around to viewing the link kenr sent, until now.

it’s the “ukelele orchestra of great britain”, playing nirvana’s “smells like teen spirit”. i think they realize the silliness they’re creating, a bunch of middle-age guys (and a woman or two, i think), in bow-ties, jamming in unison and singing along. it’s brilliant, i hate to admit.